Eichhorn Ends Stellar Career with Sweep

By John Vrancic
Special for MHSAA.com

June 1, 2017

GLADSTONE — It was business as usual for Hunter Eichhorn at Thursday’s Upper Peninsula Division 3 Boys Golf Finals.

The Carney-Nadeau senior fired a 6-under-par 66 on this sunny and mild day at Irish Oaks Golf Course for his fourth consecutive U.P. title.

He also helped the Wolves secure their third straight team championship with 327 strokes, 13 fewer than runner-up Cedarville. North Central placed third at 361.

This marked a nine-stroke improvement from a year ago for Eichhorn, who shot 75 on the same course.

“I hit the ball real well today,” said Eichhorn, who will continue his golf career at Marquette University in Milwaukee. “I didn’t get any bogeys, which is a huge part of it. There’s a little more pressure and more people watching you in the U.P. Finals, but it’s just something you have to get used to.

“I think playing Division I golf is going to be awesome. It’s something I’m prepared for. I’m looking forward to seeing how my game stacks up with the best college golfers in the world. I’m very excited to go there.”

Eichhorn, who will major in business communications, was every bit as happy with the Wolves again taking the team title.

“Winning as a team is a great feeling,” he said. “We’ve had the same team for basically three years, and this was our best score as a group. Everybody kept getting better, which put us in position to succeed.”

Cedarville senior Avry Freel, who’s attending Ferris State University this fall in preparation for his player’s ability test, earned runner-up honors with a 70. Carney senior Mason Linder and North Central junior Ben Snyder shared third place at 80.

“This is the best score I’ve had in a tournament,” said Freel. “My approach shot was working pretty well, and the course and weather conditions were nice. I was a little nervous and three-putted the first hole. Then, I birdied the second hole and settled in. It was hard to get used to the greens at first. We’ve had Finals here the last two years and we practiced here yesterday (Wednesday). I knew which clubs I needed to use.

“I’ve played with Hunter the past three years. I always try to beat him, but he’s such a good player. I have a feeling he’s going to do quite well in college.”

First-year Carney coach Mike Polfus said this was a fun season for him and the players.

“The kids were great and fun to be around,” he added. “Hunter has been phenomenal. He’s an unbelievable leader, and the kids got along real well. There would sometimes be little bit of good-natured ribbing when a kid would miss a shot, and they always complimented each other on a good shot.

“We knew Cedarville would probably the closest team to us, and their kid (Freel) shot a real nice score. It’s good for Hunter to have that competition. It makes him play better and concentrate more.”

Cedarville coach Rob Freel said he was happy with where the Trojans finished.

“I think they played very well,” he added. “Avry had an excellent round. I think Avry and Hunter gave us a real good show. Our boys did as well as they could. It was a little emotional on the last hole.”

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PHOTOS: (Top) Carney-Nadeau’s Hunter Eichhorn chips a shot near the green at Thursday’s U.P. Division 3 Golf Finals at Gladstone’s Irish Oaks Golf Course. Eichhorn was medalist with a 66 and led the Wolves to the team title. (Middle) Cedarville’s Avry Freel watches a putt on the way to finishing individual runner-up. (Photos by Mike Mattson.)

Saline's Williams-Hoak Named National Coach of the Year by LPGA Professionals

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

September 20, 2022

The LPGA Professionals have named Saline High School golf coach Debbie Williams-Hoak as its national Coach of the Year.

Williams-Hoak was among national award winners who were selected by the LPGA Professionals’ executive committee from a pool of Section Award winners, which were voted on by officers of those regional sections.

More on the award from LPGA Professionals:

The LPGA Professionals Coach of the Year Award was established in 1980 and is awarded annually to an LPGA Professionals member who is actively engaged in teaching and/or coaching golf at the collegiate or high school level.

LPGA Professionals Class A member Debbie Williams-Hoak knows what it takes to compete at the highest levels. She is a former LPGA Tour Player and track & field athlete who represented U.S. Track & Field in Russia and West Germany. She is a four-time Big Ten Champion, a member of the Ohio Track & Field Hall of Fame, University of Michigan Women’s Track Hall of Fame member and a member of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame as a player, coach and teaching professional. This year, she is being inducted into the University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor.

Having been a multi-sport athlete accustomed to competing at the highest level, Williams-Hoak brings something unique to her coaching style. She has successfully coached boys and girls golf for the past 16 years at Saline High School in Saline, Michigan, and currently is serving as the first female president of the Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association. Williams-Hoak feels proud that every girl on her team shot career lows while maintaining 100-percent academic eligibility this season, while her boys team placed second in the conference championship and qualified for its second-straight state Finals appearance.

She is dedicated to instilling a lifelong love of the game while empowering students through golf and hopes her example will pave the way for other women coaches to lead as well.

Williams-Hoak received the 2017 Sandy LaBauve Spirit Award, the most coveted honor bestowed by LPGA*USGA Girls Golf, for her continued dedication and passion for empowering girls through golf.  She was honored with the Midwest Youth Leader of the Year and Goldie Bateson Award two times, in addition to numerous recognitions as Coach of the Year from Saline High School.

She is deeply involved with the LPGA Professionals organization, which she currently serves as the LPGA Midwest Secretary since 2021. She has been site director for LPGA*USGA Girls Golf of Greater Washtenaw Country since 2015 and acted as an advisor for the Site Director Certification program in 2021. From 2018-2021, she worked as an expert committee member for LPGA*USGA Girls Golf.  She also coached at the LPGA Leadership Academies in Michigan over the last two years.

"I am extremely humbled by this award, as there are so many outstanding LPGA coaches in our association. What an honor to represent the LPGA, the state of Michigan and the game of golf as a coach,” said Williams-Hoak. “It is a privilege to work with so many wonderful players who make coaching so rewarding. I am also fortunate to have such great fellow coaches in Michigan and throughout the LPGA. Thank you so much for this very special recognition."

PHOTO: Saline golf coach Debbie Williams-Hoak, far left, stands for the trophy shot with her girls team after the Hornets won the 2016 Lower Peninsula Division 1 championship. (MHSAA file photo)